Weird Wales: some spooky sites to explore this Autumn

Wales is home to some amazingly spooky sites, from kooky woodlands and churchyards to gothic-inspired mansions and curious country houses. If you’re a sucker for a spooky story or a frighteningly fantastic encounter with the paranormal, here are some ideas for chills and thrills this autumn.

South & West Wales

The Skirrid Mountain Inn, Wye Valley by David Williams
Supposedly the most haunted pub in Wales, Abergavenny’s The Skirrid Inn has seen executions and supposedly – witchcraft in its time. You can even see rope marks on the pub’s beams. But beware - visitors have reported hushed voices, slammed doors and creepy footsteps. Heading up South Wales’ most haunted castles - Raglan, Margam and Craig-Y-Nos are home to a ghost librarian, a ghoulish gamekeeper and the spirit of opera singer Adelina Patti, respectively. A top ghost-hunting draw for paranormal investigators, Nelson’s Llancaiach Fawr is positively buzzing with activity. From weird violet smells, to naughty ghost children and sightings of Mattie the housekeeper, this is a must-see.

Don't go into the woods tonight...

Pembrey Woods, Carmarthenshire by Chris
Other sites you might not have thought of include the Dr Who Exhibition in Cardiff Bay for creepy sci-fi aliens, borgs and daleks. Big Pit’s underground tour in Blaenavon lowers you 300ft into the darkness of the coalmine beneath the surface. You’ll be engrossed in the sad stories of the young trappers, some of whom reportedly haunt the mines to this day. Look out for tugs on your clothing, ghostly apparitions and maybe even screams in the dark tunnels.  Ever hear of the ‘hatchet men of Pembrey’? Eeery Pembrey Woods date back to 400bc. The hatchet men would lure ships onto to rocks of the seashore with their lanterns, wrecking the ships. Locals have witnessed hatchet men roaming the woods. Enter if you dare.

Mid Wales

Tretower Court in the Brecon Beacons

Tretower Court, Brecon Beacons by Fred255 Photography
Rebuilt in the 15th century by Sir Roger Vaughan, Tretower Court in Crickhowell is haunted by ‘the White Lady’, supposedly Sir Roger’s wife. Maesmawr Hall Hotel near Caersws has a generous sprinkling of spooky goings-on, from marching Roman legionnaires, Elizabethan housekeepers and the ghost-bull of Robin Drwg, who supposedly haunts the grounds of the house. Probably best to avoid the cellar there too! Dating from the 11th century, the lowest of the three bridges at Devil’s Bridge is supposedly the site where an elderly lady tricked the Devil. As revenge for the old lady’s cunning, visitors are asked to take care when crossing the bridge at night in case the devil ‘seeks revenge’ for the old lady’s treachery. The legend of The Robber’s Grave, Montgomery tells of how John Davies (or Wrexham) was hanged for highway robbery. He maintained his innocence throughout his trial and sentencing, declaring that God would not allow grass to grow on his grave for 100 years after his death. So, is there grass on his grave? Better see for yourself. If you fancy a frightfully sensational scare, head to The Black Chasm at The Silver Mountain Experience, Ponterwyd. Watch out for those orcs!

North Wales

Beaumaris Castle at night, Anglesey by Kris Williams
Both Beaumaris Castle and Beaumaris Gaol are each home to creepy goings on including strange chanting, feelings of being watched, rattling keys and spooky dark shadows. The technically perfect castle was the ‘last hurrah’ of Edward ‘Longshanks’ great building programme in Wales, while the Gaol offers great insight into harsh 19th century prison life. 15th century Bodelwyddan Castle has a rich legacy of spine-chilling manifestations, including hidden skeletons in the walls and apparitions of a soldier, a woman in a Victorian dress and a Blue Lady. 

Spooky ladies of the north

Talacre Lighthouse, North East Wales by Ian Wright
There are similar ghostly goings on over in Plas Newydd, home Lady Eleanor Butler and Miss Sarah Ponsonby, the ‘Ladies of Llangollen’. The manor house in Llangollen is said to be haunted buy the ladies themselves, causing unexplained noises, drops in temperature and heavy oppressive feelings in parts of the house.  

The disused 19th century Talacre Lighthouse (officially known as the ‘Point of Ayr’) near Prestatyn is allegedly home to the ghost of the former lighthouse keeper, who is often seen in broad daylight, looking out to sea.